Long term emotional affair or just friends?
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Navigation »Talk About Marriage »Focused Topics »Coping with Infidelity » Long term emotional affair or just friends?

Coping with Infidelity Relationship recovery from the destructiveness of infidelity.

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Old 04-23-2013, 03:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Long term emotional affair or just friends?

My husband and I have been married for 23 years. When we first got married I recall him regularly talking on the phone to an ex-girlfriend whom he had dated in high school. She lived in another state. Itís been so long that I canít remember how often they spoke but I do remember being very uncomfortable and telling him so. It may have been something as slight as his body language while talking to her, or maybe it was because I knew they had at one point gotten back together before we got married. Whether insecurity, jealously, or something else, I felt that he was ďplaying with fireĒ and asked him not to continue a friendship with her. His reply was that they were childhood friends and their conversations revolved around people and events going on in the old neighborhood. At one point he invited me to say ďhiĒ to her over the phone so I wouldnít feel threatened but I refused. Instead, I insisted that he not talk to her anymore because it just didnít seem right to me. Soon after that the calls stopped coming to the house.

Three years later I found a card addressed to her in the back seat of our car. I opened it and it was an Anniversary card to her. I was both mad and hurt! I confronted him about it and he said ďit was meant as a joke because in the past they could never remember their anniversary.Ē He apologized but also made it seem as though I was over reacting. I was confused and upset so we had a few sessions of marriage counseling. Given I had two children under two at the time I couldnít see doing anything drastic so I forgave him, put it behind me and life went on.

Fast forward another 15 years. We have two very active children and I am running a business. Our intimate life has been somewhat crippled by our children at one point or another sleeping in our bed when they were little, trying to keep up with all of their activities as they got older, and me being tired a lot with getting my business off the ground. At this point we are arguing over little things and not very close but I try to find ways to rekindle our relationship. I offer him a book to strengthen our marriage as well invite him to a marriage retreat. He says he doesnít have time to read the book and at the marriage retreat he is very aloof. At some point I find a text to his ex-girlfriend where he references that he is frustrated with our sex life and mentions how good they were together. My husband erased most of the texts so I only got bits and pieces and he quickly got amnesia when I asked for specifics. Basically, I tell him if he is lonely or not satisfied with our marriage then he should turn to ME not HER so we can work things out. I am not only upset with the texts but as we talk I realize his communication with her never did stop and at one point he met her for lunch when she was in town and that he continued to communicate with her. I tell him that I donít understand why he must continue with his relationship with her giving the amount of pain it has caused me and that I feel it has a negative affect of our marriage. My husband says since they are only friends he doesnít see anything wrong with what he is doing so once again we end up back in counseling. He is told that it is NOT normal to feel the need to hold on to a past relationship like he as been doing. Nor is it normal to send each other Anniversary and Valentines Day cards celebrating what they mean(t) to each other as they have been doing for the past 20 years of our marriage. He promised to stop all contact with her. When I asked him for details about his conversation ending communication with her he again got amnesia.

Just recently while cleaning out our closet I came across old letters from her confirming that she was married when they got back together prior to our marriage. So basically, he was involved in an affair with her (she was married he wasnít). My husband acknowledges that the affair was wrong but since it was 30 years ago and before we got together it has nothing to do with us. I feel that he has never and will never get her out of his life and that they have been in and emotional affair throughout our marriage.

The letters confirming a history of an adulterous relationship, our arguing over every little thing, and his turning his back on me on a couple of occasions when I tried to patch things up got me to a point where I decided I didnít want to be married to him anymore. I told him I though we should separate but he doesnít want to. He acknowledged that he still talks to her despite his promise to stop. In this case it was because someone very close to her died and he felt the need to be there for her.

My husband wants to know what he can do to regain my trust. I feel betrayed and embarrassed. I forgive him and we are getting along better than ever but I canít take it to the next level. I feel the need to shield my heart from him forever as he as gone back on his word three times. I have moved out of our bedroom and am now sleeping in my sonís room who is away in college. My husband has made an appointment to get marriage counseling again but Ö..I just donít know. This has been going on for just too long for me to know how to be man and wife again.
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Old 04-23-2013, 04:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Long term emotional affair or just friends?

Long term EA.

He needs to 'fess up, spill it all, and get on his knees back to the woman standing on front of him, who still loves him and has had his children.
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Old 04-23-2013, 05:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Long term emotional affair or just friends?

Give the MC a try. Its purpose is not just to repair marriages, but also helps you sort through if yours is even salvageable. If you do walk away, you'll know you've tried your best and kept your side of the promise you made him long ago. He's been living a fantasy with her this entire time. His life has been based in the past while you dealt with the present.

I'm so sorry you are going through this. EA's hit close to home. Be good to yourself.
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Old 04-23-2013, 05:55 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Long term emotional affair or just friends?

If she's still married then what you should tell your husband to do is to write down all that he's done in the past with her in a narrative form. Find her husbands address and mail it to him.

You're not *hurting* her husband by revealing the truth. You're opening his eyes.
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Old 04-23-2013, 08:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Long term emotional affair or just friends?

Luckyone,

This is absolutely an emotional affair, if not more.

I am so sorry you are here. I'm also sorry that you've had to deal with 23 years of marriage where your husband secretly compares you to his fantasy wife (OW).
The fact that he is secretive about his relationship with her speaks volumes. Him meeting up with her when she was in town, doing this behind your back and not inviting you, is a huge red flag. He needs to be honest with you and with himself. Have you asked him if he loves her?

I'll be he doesn't send anniversary cards to any of his other friends.

I would recommend you separate
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Old 04-23-2013, 09:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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My husband is trying very hard to make things right. He claims he never knew there was such a thing as an emotional affair and the fact that nothing physical was going on made it easy for him to dismiss my concerns. I honestly don't think he was in touch with his true feeling for her, or maybe he was and chose to be in denial so he could avoid feeling guilty and more easily dismiss my feelings. I still don't think he totally get's it, but he has said he is sorry and understands that he crossed the line. The fact that he had lunch with her in a public setting makes him think it's okay. Like I said, he doesn't get it. He says that he is not in love with her and only wants me but it's hard for me to believe he would knowingly hurt me so deeply if all she was to him was a friend. I honestly think it's a relationship he can not live without. When I asked him to stop before he would always grow angry and justify his need to keep in touch with his friends. This time around he finally seems to understand the secretive and emotional nature of their relationship has really damaged my ability to ever trust him again. As far as rebuilding our marriage, I don't even know where to start.
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Long term emotional affair or just friends?

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Originally Posted by Silverlining View Post
Luckyone,

This is absolutely an emotional affair, if not more.

I would recommend you separate
I agree with this.

He has carried a flame, at the very least, all these years and his yearning for her has cost you his affection. He's with you and wishing he was with her. In short, you're second on his list.

I think a 90 day separation will help in that you can best determine how to go forward knowing that he tells you one thing ("I love you") but you know it is a lie and his "friend" is his first love.

Or, you can just put up with it the rest of your life. But you shouldn't have to snoop and put up with non stop lies.
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Long term emotional affair or just friends?

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Originally Posted by Luckyone View Post
My husband is trying very hard to make things right. He claims he never knew there was such a thing as an emotional affair and the fact that nothing physical was going on made it easy for him to dismiss my concerns. I honestly don't think he was in touch with his true feeling for her, or maybe he was and chose to be in denial so he could avoid feeling guilty and more easily dismiss my feelings. I still don't think he totally get's it, but he has said he is sorry and understands that he crossed the line. The fact that he had lunch with her in a public setting makes him think it's okay. Like I said, he doesn't get it. He says that he is not in love with her and only wants me but it's hard for me to believe he would knowingly hurt me so deeply if all she was to him was a friend. I honestly think it's a relationship he can not live without. When I asked him to stop before he would always grow angry and justify his need to keep in touch with his friends. This time around he finally seems to understand the secretive and emotional nature of their relationship has really damaged my ability to ever trust him again. As far as rebuilding our marriage, I don't even know where to start.
I think he's covering his tracks and he knows it.

Now he seems to have convinced you.

I still think a 90 day separation and some good talk therapy for you and maybe for the both of you is the best way to go.

And one thing I will say and maybe regret... This will never end between he & her. She means too much to him. Oh he may scale it back to keep from paying you child support, errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, keep you happy, but eventually he'll be back full scale with her and then he will cover his tracks much better. Pigs don't change. They just get smarter.
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Long term emotional affair or just friends?

Well, sometimes you just get worn out. You get too hurt and you don't have any more to give.

If this is where you are, tell him simply and directly. Tell him you want some time to decide what you want. Tell him to say it now if he wants a divorce. If he doesn't, you take some time for yourself to figure out where you are emotionally.

You are completely right that he did not care about the way he was hurting you. He should have been loving and protecting you, not his 'friendship' with an ex.
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Old 04-23-2013, 11:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Long term emotional affair or just friends?

Luckyone,

I think your husband is telling you what he thinks you want to hear. Ultimately, his actions will speak louder than his words.

Your husband is minimizing his part in this. He kept this from you because he knew it was wrong. Also, a licensed professional told him it was not normal. So what if he did not know the meaning of an emotional affair. He sure as heck knew what he was doing would hurt you, otherwise he would not have hid it from you.

You should set some boundaries. Rule #1. There is no privacy (secrets) in a marriage. He needs to become transparent if he wants to stay married to you. Rule #2. He must never have any contact with this woman ever again.
If these rules are broken, DIVORCE

This woman is his drug of choice. The sneaking around and wrongness of the relationship was flooding his brain with feel good hormones. He would get a rush from this illicit friendship. That's why he can't stop. It's not her specifically, its the feelings he is getting from her.
Like any addiction, he has to quit cold turkey!

It would strongly suggest he have a polygraph. Then, maybe he can repair some of the damage he has caused.
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Old 04-25-2013, 01:57 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Long term emotional affair or just friends?

Sounds like he never got over her. He married you probably because she refused to divorce and commit to him. You were not his first choice, and since he disregards your plea to stop talking to her, you still aren't.
You can go on like this forever, or you can force him to choose. Her or you. If he chooses you, then complete NC with her :no calls,no emails, no anniversary cards, nothing. Otherwise, you have to think if you want to play second banana to this woman for the rest of your wife.
Also, contact her husband and expose the past PA and ongoing EA.
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:43 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I have told my husband that I want a separation but he refuses to leave our home. He is giving me my space but also wants me to go to MC with him. We actually went through counseling a few months ago. It started out with me going individually. He wanted to go along "to support me" but I told him I needed to do it for myself and by myself. Once it was identified that my marriage was the biggest stressor in my life (there were others but it was the one I wanted to deal with first) he started joining in. The couples counseling helped a lot in how we communicate with each other and for the first time in years we started treating each other with more kindness, patience and respect.

A few weeks ago I sat down at the computer and his email was open. I happened to notice a greeting card from a female friend whom he has know for years and opened it. She has sent him e-cards for as long as I can remember; Thanksgiving, Christmas, New years, Valentines Day, Springtime, Easter, you name it. If a greeting card existed for that day she would send it to him. The card I opened was a Valentines Day card with a little cartoon Panda bear sending him a hug. I suppose I could have overlooked it as something fun and innocent as I had done in years past but this time tears welled up in my eyes. I realized at this point how much I didn't trust my husband.

I have never met this friend before and sent her an email asking why she was sending my husband so many cards and if they were such good friends why I hadn't met her before. (She lives out of town which might have something to do with it). I told her I could understand a birthday or major holiday like Christmas, but Valentines Day?! I suppose I overreacted, huh? I do not and have never seen her as a threat, but dealing with this made me realize how wounded I was and that despite my husband and I getting along so much better I was terrified of ever letting him fully back into my heart due to his previous and probably never ending relationship with his ex.

We have our first session of MC tomorrow. I know that he wants to work things out but I let him know that I am not necessarily going with the intent to restore our marriage but to figure out how to best move on with our lives....with or without each other.
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Old 04-25-2013, 10:12 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Long term emotional affair or just friends?

He's been cake-eating throughout your entire marriage and only now may be starting to see what he has to lose. It's a huge ego boost for him to have two women want him, so he wouldn't give up the OW unless you looked like it was a true dealbreaker.

The problem is that he has done this for so long & you have put up with it and this may have destroyed your feelings for him and your future together.

He can repair this if he takes real ownership and does what he has to do to keep you in the marriage. This means, number one, that he truly give up this OW.

After all these years, he probably won't do it, though. What he will do is go completely underground with it. He will start a new, secret e-mail account and let her know that his W is 'overly sensitive' to their 'friendship' and that they can continue their relationship on the down low so that the W's feelings aren't hurt.

This is the normal course - sadly.

In my opinion, if you want any chance at all - and it's not clear from what you write that you do - you have to take drastic action. As they say, be willing to lose it in order to save it. Tell him you are done, that a marriage of three people for 20+ years is as much as you will do.

And please stop doubting yourself, telling yourself that you are overreacting. You are not. This is the problem with EA's. They are harder to put your finger on, but they wreak havoc. Call a spade a spade. Your H's behavior has been way out of line with this for the length of your M.

If you take a hard line now, you may - finally - shake him into doing what he should have done years ago. I believe that without a split-up, he will just manage you and keep his contact with his ex.
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Old 04-25-2013, 12:24 PM   #14 (permalink)
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He's been cake-eating throughout your entire marriage and only now may be starting to see what he has to lose. It's a huge ego boost for him to have two women want him, so he wouldn't give up the OW unless you looked like it was a true dealbreaker.

The problem is that he has done this for so long & you have put up with it and this may have destroyed your feelings for him and your future together.

He can repair this if he takes real ownership and does what he has to do to keep you in the marriage. This means, number one, that he truly give up this OW.

After all these years, he probably won't do it, though. What he will do is go completely underground with it. He will start a new, secret e-mail account and let her know that his W is 'overly sensitive' to their 'friendship' and that they can continue their relationship on the down low so that the W's feelings aren't hurt.

This is the normal course - sadly.

In my opinion, if you want any chance at all - and it's not clear from what you write that you do - you have to take drastic action. As they say, be willing to lose it in order to save it. Tell him you are done, that a marriage of three people for 20+ years is as much as you will do.

And please stop doubting yourself, telling yourself that you are overreacting. You are not. This is the problem with EA's. They are harder to put your finger on, but they wreak havoc. Call a spade a spade. Your H's behavior has been way out of line with this for the length of your M.

If you take a hard line now, you may - finally - shake him into doing what he should have done years ago. I believe that without a split-up, he will just manage you and keep his contact with his ex.
Everything you say rings true to me. At times I felt like I was going crazy because I could never pin him down with doing something terribly wrong, yet something ached within me. I do think he may have finally come to his senses and realizes what he has to loose, but truth be told, after the two of them being there for each other all these years, no matter how hard he tries, I don't think he can ever get her out of his system. Till death do they part...

Last edited by Luckyone; 04-25-2013 at 06:59 PM.
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